Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Barcelona this weekend! We took a 3 hour train ride Thursday evening that was very pleasant: big seats, lots of room, movies. We got to Barcelona and split a taxi ride to the hostel. I went with 3 girls and 3 guys from my program. The guys wanted to couch surf, but ended up getting a hostel as well. Anyway, our hostel was awesome! Mambo Tango Youth Hostel, right in the middle of the city. We were in a room with 9 bunk beds and had really nice roommates while we were there. Igor, the first receptionist we met was great. He made us a free dinner and was super nice and fun. The downstairs of the hostel had a nice lounge area with computers, a tv with free movies, couches, tables, games and a kitchen for us to use. This was my first experience in a youth hostel, and I have to say, it was a perfect one! The showers were hot and clean, the people were nice, the food was cheap, and the atmosphere was so much fun with lots of college kids!
That first night, we walked around and got hot chocolate and churros, our favorite! We were all a bit tired so we didn't stay out to late.
Ok, before I go on I have to say, Barcelona was a nice city but do I want to visit again? Probably not. Everyone told me to watch out for pick-pocketers before I left, which I did, but that wasn't the biggest problem we had. Our group of girls was constantly harassed by Barcelona men. Constantly. The second we would walk out of the hostel, men would yell things at us, or ask for kisses when we walked by. Even in the restaurants they would! We went to a pita place and the guy behind the counter kept calling us 'baby' and trying to get us to buy beer. So gross. In Barcelona, people were selling things all over the streets, especially beer. One guy asked if we wanted to buy 'sexy beer' and then told us we were hot in an awful English translation. We felt so gross. The second night we went out, we literally screamed 'no' at them instead of just walking by because in Barcelona, if you don't say anything, then continue to follow you and at times try to grab you. I'm telling you, it was so awful. Barcelona, you need to control your men. Its gross and unappealing. I like the southern gentlemen type much better.
Besides the constant harassment, everything turned out OK. On Friday, we visited the Barcelona Cathedral, the Sagrada Familia and the Gaudi park. The unfinished Sagrada Familia is the cathedral that Gaudi designed and it is absolutely breathtaking. It is supposed to be finished in 2026, the centennial of Gaudi's death. After the Cathedral, we metro-ed over to his park. AH, the park. It was sooo awesome. It was less grassy fields and nature than it was awesome architecture, minute details, winding pathways and beautiful mosaics. It is the Disney World of parks. We brought food with us and had a nice little picnic in the park- and sangria. My favorite thing though was all the music. Artists were playing all throughout the park. (For any percussionists reading this, there were hang drums everywhere! I saw about 5 or 6 being played in Barcelona. It took all of my strength not to run up and start playing with them.) Then we went back to the hostel for a bit and then went out again. That night we found some decent bars to drink in and found an AMAZING vegetarian pita place called Moaz. Probably the best part of our night.
On Saturday, us girls went to the Barcelona Chocolate museum!! It was awesome. The ticket was a bar of chocolate. Barcelona has a chocolate museum because they were the first city to have a chocolate producing factory. We learned all out the cocao fruit and how the use of chocolate has developed. In the beginning, the Mayans and the Aztecs used it for rituals and sacrificial purposes. It was more of a dark, spicy drink. It wasn't until Cortés and the Europeans came over when chocolate became sweet and consumed as a pleasure drink. The museum also had a chocolate school which displayed amazing chocolate sculptures all over the museum. They were even better than all those Food Network challenges!
After that we had lunch in the park again. What we would do for cheap food was go to a supermercat and buy stuff for sandwiches: warm french bread, cheese, salami and a dessert. We would literally eat lunch for about 2 euros a person. So yummy! Also, I have fallen in love with orange Fanta here! It is so much better here than in the States. Its almost like fresh OJ with some bubbly water. That night, we just hung out in the hostel with other people who were staying there. We watched a movie, played games and drank wine. Oh, and made french bread pizza!
On Sunday, we went on a free walking tour around the old Gothic city. It was nice to learn little history tidbits about the city. There was a taxidermy shop we passed by that Dalí would go to regularly to order rhino heads, elephants parts and once, he ordered 200,000 ants! Interesting fellow. We saw some old Roman ruins as well. They still have 3 standing pillars from the original Roman temple of Barcelona.
After our last lunch in Barcelona, we headed to the station! All in all great trip. When we returned to Valencia it felt like we were home again. No men were being rude to us and people were speaking Spanish again (because in Barcelona they speak Catalan and lots of English). Catalan is a mix between French and Spain and I don't understand a lick of it.
When we got back, Kara and I got on a bus to ride home since it was kinda of late. Well low and behold, this bus wasn't going to finish the full circle and we got dropped off in the middle of nowhere. I don't know why or how we missed this simple little fact, but we got totally stranded, but we turned out ok. I had some friends numbers that I had met in Valencia but we were able to flag a cab down and get home safely. You live and you learn, right??
Sorry for the lack of pictures. This is midterm week and I need to get to studying! Whoever told me that classes over here are going to be easier can bite their tongue. I'm dying and only taking 4 classes! Wish me luck for this week! Hasta luego.